Whole artichokes are admittedly something I discovered late in life, I don’t think I had my first fresh whole artichoke until last year sometime. It actually makes me sad every time I think of it, all the missed years of goodness. I had canned or jarred artichokes hearts on salads or in dips, but whole artichokes aren’t a super common vegetable in Western New York and I always prefer to eat as local as possible. After living here in Southern California a few months and trying fresh whole artichokes several different ways, I quickly learned my favorite way to enjoy them is grilled.
Preparing artichokes for the first time is very daunting. I actually attempted to make them a couple of years ago and didn’t look up any instructions and I had NO clue what I was doing. I didn’t know which parts were edible and which parts were not. However, once you figure out how to prepare an artichoke, and do it yourself a time or two, it really is a breeze.
Artichokes do take some time to cook, so you can’t just throw them on the grill raw, they would take too long to get tender and would likely burn and dry out first. I steam them first then grill them right before serving for a nice flavor and to get those great grill marks. You can boil them before hand if you wish, but sometimes if they cook too long, they can get a bit too soggy that way. I usually steam them in a few inches of water, without a basket.
Oh and don’t make the mistake I did the first time I had a whole artichoke at a restaurant, you don’t chew the whole leaves, but rather you pull it through your teeth to remove all the soft “meat” on the inside, discarding the tough and fibrous leaf that is left. Once all the leaves are gone, you are left with the amazingly delicious and tender heart of the artichoke.
These grilled artichokes have so much amazing flavor, from the smokiness on the grill, the garlic, the bright fresh taste from the marinade and finally the creamy garlicky dipping sauce. These are great for an appetizer when you have guests, since you can prepare them before hand and throw on the grill just before serving. They can also be a side dish or even a light lunch.
To compliment this recipe, we have a beautifully paired wine from Best Wines Online, the online fine wine retailer. Vincent Ricard Touraine Les Trois Chenes 2011, is a beautiful, crisp 100% Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley. It is rich and substantial enough for a red wine drinker, but still light and bright for a hot summer BBQ. There is a subtle perfume of bright citrus and a very subtle floral undertone, I find it to have a lot more depth than many Sauvignon Blancs that I have tried. It finishes with a bright crisp taste that perfectly compliments both the smokey flavor from the grill and the acidity from the marinade. The best part about this wine is that Vincent’s vineyards are fully organic. He allows grass to grow between his vines and he doesn’t use any herbicides or pesticides on his crops, which I of course, LOVE.
Check out BestWinesOnline.com for the world’s coolest wines at the country’s hottest prices.
How many of you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner? Is it a special occasion thing or every night? How do you pair your wines with your meals?
- 2 Large Artichokes
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 1-2 lemons
- Sea Salt
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Prepare and Steam the Artichokes:
Add an inch or two of water to a large pot*, if you have a steamer basket or rack, place that in there. (Add more water if you are just boiling them). Add the juice of half a lemon to the water, the halved garlic cloves and a pinch or two of sea salt. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil.
Keep the rest of the lemon for rubbing all over the artichokes after they are cut to keep them from turning brown.
Peel away the outer set of lower leaves, nearest to the stem and cut off all but about 1 to 2 inches of the stem. Cut the top 1/3 off of the artichokes. Using kitchen sheers, cut away any of the pointy prickly tips on the leaves left on. Keep your lemon nearby to rub on any cut areas.
Cut the artichokes in half. Using a spoon, scoop out all of the fuzzy chokes from inside and some of the small inner leaves. Rub lemon juice all over the cut and exposed areas.
Add the artichokes to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and allow the artichokes to steam (or boil) for about 20 minutes. You want the hearts to be tender and for the leaves to easily peel off.
* Be sure to use a stainless-steel, enameled, or other nonreactive pot to cook artichokes to prevent discoloration or off flavors.
Marinate the Artichokes:
Once steamed, place the artichokes cut side up in a shallow glass baking pan or large serving dish, mix together the marinade and pour it over the artichokes evenly. Work the garlic into all the little crevices, if you wish. Grill the artichokes right away if you wish, I like to let them marinate at least an house but I have marinated them as long as over night. Obviously the longer they marinate the more flavor they have.
Grill the Artichokes:
Heat your grill to a medium-high. Place the artichokes, cut side down on the grill. Using a grill or pastry brush, brush a little of marinade left in the dish, to the back sides of the artichokes. Cover the grill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how brown you want them and how hot your grill is. We like ours nice and blackened. Just before you take them off, give them a minute or two on the other side.
Just before serving sprinkle just a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve as is or with melted butter, mayonnaise, aioli or any other dipping sauce of your choice. [/print_this]
[print_this]Lemon Garlic Aioli (optional) – Gluten-free, Dairy-free w/ Vegan Option
- 1/2 cup organic or homemade mayonnaise (you can also use vegan mayo)
- 2 garlic cloves, roasted is even better
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve. [/print_this]